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What you need to know before studying… in the UK

The third favorite destination for French students, the United Kingdom still attracts massive numbers, despite the uncertainties linked to Brexit. Changes in perspective, accommodation, cost of living… L’Etudiant tells you everything you need to prepare for your mobility.

For several years, the United Kingdom has oscillated between the first and second place of the favorite Erasmus destinations of the French. It is the third country in the world where French students go the most massively: more than 12,000 students completed part of their course there in 2016, according to figures from Campus France). But with the prospect of Brexit, some concerns are being expressed about university exchanges across the Channel. If (like the Brits) you don’t know where to turn, don’t panic, the Student guides you to prepare for your departure.

Universities recognized around the world

Oxford, Cambridge, King’s College… These names of English universities are known – and recognized on the labor market – throughout the world. L’cambridge university ranks third in the Shanghai 2019 ranking of the best universities in the world. It is the first European institution to appear in this international ranking. Oxford appears in the seventh position and the University College of London (UCL) is placed in the fifteenth. Other universities are also doing well in terms of reputation, such as Manchester, Bristol or Glasgow.

English higher education consists of two stages: the “undergraduate“which leads to a bachelor (equivalent to our license, i.e. a bac+3), then the “postgraduate” which corresponds to Master (bac+5). The durations of cycles vary according to the universities, which are autonomous.

To prepare for entry into a specialized course (such as an artistic or engineering course), a second path exists, called “foundation degree” (in two years after the baccalaureate). These more professional training courses are often carried out on a work-study basis.

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An uncertainty called Brexit

Since 2016, the United Kingdom is shaken by a phase of uncertainty linked to the Brexit process. The exit of the country from the European Union is well formalized since February 1, 2020 and will not have no impact on students currently in the UKor even for those who plan to leave by January 1, 2021. Gray areas still reign, particularly in terms of agreements between French and British universities. Some have even started to tie bilateral partnerships to continue the exchange programs.

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Regarding student mobility, once the exit is effective, you should be able to continue to travel without a visaonly with a passport or a valid identity card. Only one certainty: ECTS credits (European credit transfer and accumulation system) acquired in a British institution will remain valid throughout Europe. Also remember to bring a European Health Insurance Card. All you have to do is make a request to your insurer: the card is free, valid for two years and allows you to be covered in the event of illness.

Waiting, continue to leave via the program Erasmus+ seems the best plan to adopt for French students: less expensive in terms of registration fees, it also often makes it easier to find accommodation in the country (with proposals for places in university residences). Notify your bank of your departure anyway. In the United Kingdom, the currency is the pound sterling, so be careful about the exchange rates.

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Anticipate your expenses, which are higher than in France

The cost of living is rather high in the UK, especially in some cities like London. According to estimates from the Cost of Expat, daily life is on average 36% more expensive than in Paris.

Cost in Paris Cost in London Percentage difference
Monthly rent for a room in the city center €1,175.49 €2,186.13 + 86%
Monthly pass for public transport 75 € €181.97 + 142.60%
Modest restaurant for one person 15 € €19.02 + 26.80%
fast food menu €8.90 €7.61 – 14.50%
Water bottle (1.5L) €0.88 €0.96 +9.10%
Local draft beer (0.50 L) €6.50 €6.34 – 2.50%
Rice (1 kg) €1.83 €1.62 – 11.50%
Potatoes (1 kg) €1.92 €1.56 – 18.80%

If you leave without an exchange program, also expect rather hefty tuition fees : they can vary from €4,000 per year (Wales and Northern Ireland) to €10,000 (in England).

On the scholarship side, you can benefit from the aid offered by your Erasmus+ program (between 270 and 370 € per month) or eveninternational mobility assistance (400 € per month). Some scholarships are also offered by the regions : check with your Regional Council.

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Prioritize campus studios

Hard to find one affordable housing in many British cities, and particularly in London where rents are soaring. Try as much as possible to opt for the rooms on the campuses (count between 350 and 450 € per month) or in flatsharing (even if the rents for a room often already start at 600 € monthly). Two sites can help you find the rare pearl: Spareroom and Easyroomate.

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Good student plans

Remember to ask your International student identity card (ISIC). It offers some discounts on certain tourist activities to international students: the Shakespeare Globe Theater and the London Eye are yours! Another good plan to know: the European Youth Cardvalid for one year for €10, allows you to take advantage of discounts all over Europe.

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